There was a point several years ago when Bruce Alger, the longtime president and general manager of the New Market Rebels, said he began to entertain the idea of one day becoming commissioner of the Valley Baseball League. At the time, though, he felt he wasn’t quite ready to take on the role.
Before his wife Lynne died of breast cancer in April 2016, Alger said Monday afternoon, most of his focus had been on aiding his wife through her seven-year battle with the disease while balancing the responsibilities of running the Rebels and serving as the Valley League’s executive vice president, a role he held for over a decade.
Since his wife’s passing, Alger said his desire to fill his time with added responsibilities within the VBL grew, to the point where he began working closely with league president Donald Lemish in order to prepare to possibly step in as Lemish’s successor.
Lemish officially stepped down as VBL president/commissioner in the middle of the 2017 season late last week, and now it’s Alger’s turn to lead the Valley League.
Alger was unanimously voted to serve out the remainder of Lemish’s term in an emergency meeting of the VBL’s board of directors on Sunday, said Alger, who has vaulted to the top of the collegiate summer baseball organization he’s been a part of since 1965.
“Fifty-two years ago I started my venture into the Valley Baseball League hanging numbers on the old scoreboard at Rebel Park,” Alger said Monday afternoon. “At the time I never would’ve even dreamed or imagined that the day would come that I would be elected to serve as the commissioner/president. But I have to say it’s been a fantastic journey over the years, one that’s left me with many wonderful memories. It’s become one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime, to be honest.”
Alger, who has held various positions within the New Market organization, has served as the Rebels’ president and general manager since being named to the position for a second time in 2001.
For over 10 years Alger has also been the VBL’s executive vice president and held the role under two different commissioners in Lemish and Dave Biery, who served as league president from 1985-2012.
Alger called Biery and Lemish two “outstanding” leaders and added that he gained a “tremendous amount of knowledge” from each of them.
“I think I can easily incorporate that knowledge and the success gained from it into my own leadership characteristics as I try my best to continue the positive momentum that’s been given to me in promoting the Valley Baseball League nationwide,” Alger said. “I guess I very humbly accept the responsibilities and importance of the position because I’ve been given the tools that I need to advance the league.”
Officer positions in the Valley Baseball League, including that of commissioner/president, are held in two-year terms and elections for the next two-year cycle, conducted by the league’s board of directors, are scheduled for November, Lemish said. Alger said he “fully anticipates” he’ll be re-elected as the league commissioner at that time.
Alger called his promotion a bittersweet move, however, as his new title will mean less involvement with the New Market Rebels organization.
“I suspect that it will be a gradual releasing of my responsibilities to the New Market Rebels board of directors … and we’ll make it as easy a transition as we possibly can,” Alger said.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever totally be out of New Market Rebel baseball because I’ve got so many roots in the community here that have supported me and helped me over the years. I’m thinking that for that organization to continue to be successful I have to be associated with it in some way, even though that may not be in an official capacity with a title.”
Lemish said Monday that he felt it was time to step away after six years with the VBL and did so midseason in an effort to ease his successor’s transition into the job. Alger said Lemish had kept him in tune with the responsibilities and duties required of the VBL commissioner, adding that the adjustment will be a “very, very easy” one.
“I have a tremendous group of high-quality community leaders, all with the utmost integrity, serving as officers and board members within the Valley Baseball League,” Alger said. “They honestly do the right things and they do it for the right reasons. I’m certainly looking forward to working with each of them as we attempt to raise the bar a little higher as a league united in accepting the challenges that await us out there.”
Alger confirmed that Jay Neal, president/CEO of the Strasburg Express, was elected the Valley League’s new executive vice president on Sunday.